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Boehner 10, Grover Norquist 8, America 7, Grover 7, Washington 6, Geithner 6, Clinton 5, Susan Rice 4, Pentagon 4, Obama 4, Mcconnell 4, Claire Mccaskill 4, Claire 3, Van Hollen 2, Mccaskill 2, Tim Geithner 2, China 2, The American Economy 2, Tennessee 2, Derrell 2,
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  MSNBC    Meet the Press    News/Business. A moderator  
   interviews a leading public figure. (CC)  

    December 2, 2012
    11:00 - 12:00pm PST  

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fortunately we've got ink. it gives us 5x the rewards on our internet, phone charges and cable, plus at office supply stores. rewards we put right back into our business. this is the only thing we've ever wanted to do and ink helps us do it. make your mark with ink from chase. this morning on "meet the press," our own economic summit. as the new budget battle turns ugly, has anything really changed in washington? president obama presses the case for tax hikes on the rich, and the tax cut extension for the middle class, now. >> if congress does nothing, every family in america will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year. >> but republicans aren't budging, accusing the president of avoiding tough choices on spending and wasting time in the
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effort to avoid the fiscal cliff. >> it's not a serious proposal. and so right now, we're almost nowhere. >> will there be a deal by the end of the year? and what are the consequences for the economy if there isn't one? we'll ask the president's lead budget negotiator, treasury secretary tim geithner. then the view from capitol hill. are democrats as divided over cutting medicare as republicans are over tax increases? with us, two voices calling for compromise. republican senator bob corker of tennessee and democratic senator claire mccaskill of missouri. finally, our special economic roundtable. as both sides battle over the nation's fiscal health, what can we expect from the economy in a second obama term? what is the vision for an economic rebound? from nbc news in washington, the world's longest-running television program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory.
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and good sunday morning. amidst a lot of partisan rhetoric on both sides, talks on the fiscal cliff are now at a stand still, and the president is back on the campaign trail of sorts. this time to try to win in a court of public opinion for his plan to avert an automatic tax hike for everyone on january 1. that's where we'll start this morning with the point man on the negotiations for all of this. the secretary of treasury, tim geithner. and our roundtable is also here. standing by for reaction, including the man behind the republican pledge not to raise taxes at all, not to raise tax rates, grover norquist. here's here. we'll get reaction from him as well in our roundtable. but first, i sat down with secretary geithner at the treasury department late friday. mr. secretary, welcome back to "meet the press." thank you for having us at the treasury department. >> good to see you. >> you are the president's lead negotiator. you have been to capitol hill. you presented the president's offer. and it immediately was not received well. it was called by republican leaders unserious. they have accused the president and you are wasting precious
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time here to avert the fiscal cliff. was this the intended effect of the president's first offer? >> what we're trying to do is to make it more likely. we come together on a good agreement for the american people that extends tax cuts to the american people. brings our long-term deficits down. tough spending savings is part of that, and invest in things that matter to the american economy, like infrastructure, and getting americans back to work. we think we can do that. we have a good chance, and it's very important. and i think we'll get there, david. >> do you think we'll get a deal by the end of the year? >> i do. because the only thing standing in the way of that is a refusal by republicans to accept that rates have to go up on the wealthiest americans. and i don't really see them doing that. >> the idea that they have signalled something significant for them, which is -- >> what is that? >> putting revenue on the table. >> it's welcome that they are recognizing that revenues are going to have to go up. but they haven't told us
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anything about how far rates should go up, how far revenues should go up, who should pay higher taxes. >> republicans have said that no republicans will vote for a tax rate increase. do you think they are just bluffing? >> i can't tell you what they are likely to do. all i can tell you is what we think makes the most sense for the american people. and we spend a lot of time talking to the business community, small business and large businesses, the last few weeks or so. the president has done that. and i think there's very broad-based support for the type of plan we've laid out, which is tough spending savings, so we can go back to living within our means, combined with modest revenue increases on the 2% of the wealthiest americans. >> have things changed in washington? >> oh, yes. >> how do you know that? you said this is just political theater. >> i'm not an expert in political theater, but that's what it seems like. >> well, anyone who wants a solution in washington has to ask the question, has anything
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really changed? what has changed in your point of view? >> they have acknowledged for the first time in decades, i think, that revenues are going up. that's good. but we need to know what they are prepared to do on rates and revenues and on the spending side. again, we have laid out a detailed plan of spending cuts. $600 billion in spending in mandatory programs over 10 years. they phase in gradually, build over time. they are good policy. they make a lot of sense. on top of $1 trillion in spending cuts, defense and other programs enacted last year, which stay in place over 10 years. and if they'd like to go beyond that or do it differently, they need to tell us what they propose and we'll look at it. >> one of the things they talk about here, you have four times as much in new revenue as you do in spending cuts. >> that's just political math. not real math. we have enacted $1 trillion in spending cuts last year. they are hard savings. we are living with those and we will be for 10 years. we proposed an additional $600 billion in spending cuts. detailed reforms.
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very difficult reforms over time alongside that. and alongside those changes and the savings from ending the wars -- >> do you specify spending cuts as part of this deal? >> detailed reforms that add up to $600 billion. i'll give you some examples. we are reforming farm subsidies. it makes a lot of sense. in health care, modestly increase premiums for high income beneficiaries of medicare. it makes sense. makes the government much smarter for how they buy medicine for people under medicare. those are just three examples. but there's $600 billion of examples in the president's proposals. if the republicans don't like those ideas, and they want to do it differently, they want to go beyond that, they have to tell us what makes sense for them. and then we can take a look at it. but what we can't do is figure out what makes sense for them. >> in terms of tax rates, in your mind, you don't have to go back to the clinton era tax rates for this to be a workable deal.
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>> well, i think you do. >> all the way up? >> again, our proposal is to let those rates go back to clinton levels for 2% of the wealthiest americans. and combine that with tax reforms that limit deductions for the wealthiest americans. we think if you do that, alongside the spending savings, then you can put the country back on a much more responsible fiscal path. >> including getting rid of the mortgage interest deduction or the charitable giving deduction? do you think those have to be on the table and looked at? >> we have proposed -- and we did this four years ago -- a carefully designed way to limit modestly the value of all of those deductions for the wealthiest 2% of americans. there are other ways to do it. we can take a look at those ways. but there's no way you can do this in a balanced way that restores fiscal responsibility without tax rates going up. >> one of the things i've heard talking to republicans today is this notion that you want to take away congress' ability to have the authority over the increasing the debt limit, is a total nonstarter from a republican point of view.
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does that have to be in there in your point of view? >> this is very important, and let me tell you what's at stake. we are not prepared to leave the economy of the united states and the savings of americans, the savings of investors, vulnerable to periodic threats by republicans to default on the american credit. >> democrats have made the same threats in the past, have they not, including the president? >> there's no precedent in the many decades of history of this, of what the republicans tried to do in the summer of 2011. you saw how damaging that was. we're not prepared to go through that again. but we made a very sensible suggestion, and let me describe what that is. what we proposed to them if they extend what's called the mcconnell provision. this was a solution senator mcconnell offered last summer, which was enacted in the summer of 2011, into law and supported by republicans. and the way that works is the president would have the obligation periodically to request an increase in the debt limit, and congress would have the chance then to express its
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views on the merits of that proposal by disapproving that, and then the president would have to decide if a bill came to his desk about whether to veto or sign it. and the virtue of that mechanism proposed by senator mcconnell, a man of impeccable conservative credentials, is to make sure that the country is not left at risk of pure default. it's a very good idea. it's a republican idea. and we're suggesting they extend it. >> let me come back to the idea of, what is the pain point for democrats here? what is the pain that democrats are going to have to be willing to live with to get the kind of deal that you're driving with republicans on taxes when it comes to both spending cuts, particularly spending cuts to programs like medicare? >> well, i think that it's true that both sides are going to have to do things that are difficult for them, uncomfortable for them. and the american people have already been asked to adapt to $1 trillion in spending cuts in defense and nondefense that touches the lives of many, many americans. >> you're not suggesting the
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sequester stay on the defense spending? >> we're talking about the cuts of last year. we want to replace the sequester of last year with different cuts. >> on defense? liberals say there still should be significant cuts to defense. >> people say that, but we'll look to the pentagon for what makes the most sense for the national security needs are the country. but what we proposed top of those $1 trillion savings of last year is $600 billion in detailed reforms to our health care programs and other government programs that over 10 years yield very substantial savings. again, david, republicans have said that they don't like those reforms. they'd like to do more. and if that's true, they should tell us what they'd like as an alternative or compliment to those. we can't react to anything 2348 until we see the details of the proposal. and we need it on the rates and revenues as well as the spending side. we have given them our view of what makes sense for the country. we think we'll have enormous support. >> is it fair to go to
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republicans, many of whom were re-elected just like the president was re-elected in their own districts and say, look, we're going to get specific when it comes to the tax increases we want, but we'll be vague when it comes to stuff that's hard for our side, which is medicare. >> that's a misperception. we propossessed $600 billion in savings. people can take a careful look at them. what we haven't seen from the republicans is a plan to raise rates and revenues. they said they are prepared to raise revenues. but they haven't said how, how much, or who should pay, and haven't proposed what they need on the spending side. we can't figure out what they need. they have to tell us. and then we have to look at it and see if it makes sense for the american people. >> when you look at the economy overall, growth at 2.7% last quarter. how does the economy get out of this slump? what is our economy doing well right now? what are we not doing as well as a country to deal with our economy? >> good question. the economy now is actually
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looking quite resilient. if you look at what's happening in energy, enormous boom. in agriculture, even with the drought, you're seeing incredible levels of income to farmers, which is really welcome. in manufacturing, one of the strongest periods of manufacturing revival that we've seen in almost a generation. not just in autos, and not just in high tech, but comprehensibly across that. we are showing american companies very competitive and resilient, and companies are bringing back production from china and mexico because this is looking like a much stronger country in which to invest and build. those are very encouraging signs for the american economy. and people running america's businesses would say they are in the strongest position they have been in maybe a decade in terms of the ability they have to expand and grow. and if we are able to lift this threat, big tax increases on middle class americans, lift this threat of periodic threats of default, lift this threat of badly designed deep austerity on the spending side up front, then i think there's enormous
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potential for the american economy to grow faster going forward. >> and if you don't, the stakes, the consequences, are severe? >> oh, yeah. to go over this fiscal cliff, because republicans won't raise taxes, tax rates on the wealthiest 2% of americans, would subject the average american to big tax increase and enormous damage from the other cuts that would happen. and there's just no reason why the country has to go through that. and we have a chance to do something much better. not just for the long-term health of the american economy, but for the immediate challenge which is getting stronger growth and more job creation. >> but you heard the president say today if there's no deal, are you going to blame the republicans for ruining christmas? >> the only thing that stands in the way of a deal right now is if a group of republican members decide they're going to block a deal because they want to extend tax cuts. we can't afford for the wealthiest 2% of americans. >> the president said on election night, you voted for politics, not action as usual.
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you're saying what we can expect from republicans. what can we expect from the president to break that cycle? >> a willingness to sit down and explore what the best way to get through this is that's in the interest of the american people. not just now, but for future generations. again, we've been very clear about what investments we need, what savings we can do, how we're going to pay for that and how to make sure we're protecting the american economy from a broad tax increase on middle class americans. >> mr. secretary, thank you. >> nice to see you. my interview with secretary geithner. and now for reaction and analysis, i am joined by our roundtable, cnbc's dynamic duo this morning, maria bartiromo and jim cramer. congressman chris van hollen. and grover norquist. has anything been said about you this week? i don't know. i can't remember. grover, i want to start with you as we get first reaction to secretary geithner. the line in the sand is clear, and that is that the administration, the president,
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says that republicans will indeed blink, that they will ultimately have to acquiesce, tax rates have to go up. >> well, your interview with him was very, very helpful to me because in the past, there have been some republicans who thought that maybe the administration, like clinton, was going to be reasonable, that they might put real reforms like welfare reform like clinton did on the table. what we just heard was no reforms. he even took the $1 trillion in spending cuts they agreed to, to the debt ceiling, took that off. so we'll spend $1 trillion more there. 24 this is a massive collection of spending increases and tax increases. every republican who had impure thoughts of maybe i could raise taxes a little because the other guy would be reasonable has to go back to the drawing board. they have just been told there are no real reforms in this budget at all. >> but what about the -- >> $1.6 trillion in tax increases, and some of the savings are actually tax increases. >> how about the direct point?
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the treasury secretary telling me, look, republicans are not going to stand in the way of tax rates going up. true or false? >> republicans want to continue the bush tax cuts and the extenders and the amt patch and so on. and what we did two years ago, what clinton signed two years ago, with a democratic house and a democratic senate did two years ago, is exactly what we should do now to start with. it's the president who is threatening to raise taxes on the middle class if he doesn't stamp his feet and get his way. he needs to get into a room with cameras there and negotiate. that was all show and no economics. have it in front of cspan cameras. if the republicans are reasonable, we'll see that. if not, we'll see that. have cameras there. >> congressman van hollen, you have speaker boehner saying this morning to fox, we are nowhere. this was an unserious proposal. is it just political theater like the treasury secretary said?
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>> well, what's happened now is that the president has put forward a plan. it's transparent. it's on the internet. speaker boehner needs to come forward and put his counterplan on the table right now. that's what has to happen. so when speaker boehner says we're at a stalemate, it's because he refuses to put forward other options. let's be really clear on what the president has said. he wants to extend tax relief for 100% of american families and small businesses on their first $250,000 of income. and what republicans are saying it is, nobody gets that tax relief unless folks over $250,000 get the extra four cents on the dollar that they were getting compared to the clinton tax rates. and i just don't believe that the american people are going to accept the republican position when we need to extend middle class tax cuts and get serious about our long-term deficit reduction. >> gamesmanship. that's the big piece of this. what's the bottom line? does the president have a chance to prevail with how he's going about this at the moment? >> at this point, it looks like
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both sides are digging in. based on that interview, it looks like the president is digging in and that's unfortunate, because it doesn't seem like we are looking at compromise right now. as far as the economy is concerned, we will see a hit to the economy if in fact both sides continue to dig in. and the markets right now are expecting a deal. the markets have been trading fine. if we don't get a deal, we're going to see a sizeable decline in stocks. we are going to get a big disappointment. >> jim, let's talk about it. when we go over the fiscal cliff, what happens? the bush tax cuts expire january 1, so they automatically go up to clinton era levels. the 2011 payroll tax holiday expires. the alternative tax kicks in. and then you have $1 trillion of cuts, half of which is in defense. how is the president doing in his pitch so far, both in his first offer and how he's going to the public to sell this? >> i think he's doing pretty well. i think he is calling for compromise.
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compromise means no firings of any great magnitude starting january 8. january 8, that's the first company reports. there will be a foot race to fire. who can fire the most? who saw the recession coming? and i think that compromise, which i believe the president is actually offering, avoids those firings. avoids the big spending problems that you're going to see. there's no valentine's day. there's no easter. there's no big spending days coming if you go through and don't compromise. >> here's what i think is going on in part, grover. the president is being as aggressive as he is with this initial proposal, putting boehner in a position to fight him hard, so if boehner can win some concessions, that he can look better. that he can say to his caucus, look, we fought the good fight here. i dialed them back from where they were significantly. we've got to take this tough medicine. >> it might work, except you left a couple of things off. there's $1 trillion of obama care taxes hitting in the next several years, many of them major taxes. if you have a flexible savings account on january 1 -- this
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isn't the fiscal cliff. this is what obama has already baked into the cake. your flexible savings account will be trashed by taxes. millions of special needs families will find their taxes go up. if you're really sick, you can't deduct as much of your health care costs as you used to. these are all the ways that obama's raising taxes, $1 trillion, $1.1 trillion, over the next decade. five major taxes. his new taxes are not off the table. they hit directly into the middle class. medical devices. when you go to the hospital, medical devices like riding in a wheelchair will get more expensive because of this tax. i mean, these taxes are damaging. he wants to make them permanent. >> i think grover knows that the major source of additional taxes is part of the affordable care act is asking higher income individuals over $250,000 to pay higher capital gains and more on their medicare contribution. that was the bulk of the taxes. so to suggest that this is a big tax increase on middle income americans is just not right.
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the president's proposing that we extend tax relief for the middle income americans. that's what we've got to do. >> if you have a flexible savings account, you're being damaged. >> let me do this. we'll have much more on this later, including what i still think is the big question that hangs from this interview, which is, is the tax fight essentially over? the one that you have been waging, grover norquist. we'll have more on that. i want to take a break. more from our roundtable later in the hour. but up next, i'll talk with two senators calling for compromise, senators bob corker and claire mccaskill. we'll talk to them next after this break. i'm a conservative investor.
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coming up, as you've heard, a key part of the debate is between raising tax rates as opposed to closing tax loopholes. but if you do the math, you'll see closing loopholes like the charitable contribution deduction won't come near the trillions needed to pay down the debt. in fact, if you get rid of the top 10 loopholes, which would be nearly politically impossible,
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the u.s. government would only pull in an extra $834 billion. so what are the outlines of a deal with that in mind? when we come back, we'll talk to two senators who are pushing for a compromise. senators claire mccaskill and bob corker, coming up next. ts. ts. today, the beaches and gulf are open, and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america. we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger.
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we'll hear more from our
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roundtable in just a bit. but first, i'm joined by two key voices calling for compromise. tennessee republican bob corker and missouri democrat claire mccaskill. welcome to both of you. senator, what's changed in washington? where is the room for real bipartisan to avert this fiscal cliff? does it exist? >> i think it does. i think we understand that this is about our country first. and it really is a time we need to put politics aside, and it's going to be painful. none of us are going to get the deal that we exactly want. but we have to keep talking to one another. and bob and i have talked this week. i'm talking every day with my republican colleagues. what has to happen, though, there has to be a realization that if we do nothing, the republicans are going to have to live with the fact that they are willing to stop a deal all over a tax rate for the top 2% of this country. and, frankly, i'm really hopeful that doesn't happen. and i know bob feels the same way. >> senator, lindsey graham has
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said in this past week, quote, no republican will vote for higher tax rates. will you? >> well, the negotiations are between the president and speaker boehner. and they will get into the details of that. i think you know i've laid out a plan that has $1 trillion in revenues, coupled with real entitlement reforms. >> but higher tax rates. you heard treasury secretary geithner. they are going to force this issue and say to republicans, it's over. the tax fight is over. rates have to go up. the president won re-election. he made this argument. the american people are behind him. that's what they are going to argue. and they are going to say grover norquist, forget him, tax rates have to go up. are you willing to accept that? >> look, speak are boehner and leader mcconnell both have put revenues on the table. >> let's just understand. everybody in washington says revenues. there's increasing your tax rates and there's finding other ways to raise tax revenue. and the distinction is important, because what republicans object to is raising your tax rates. your actual marginal tax rates. that's the distinction that you have to answer, right? >> well, you can get there two
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ways. one of the ways is the way i proposed, which is closing loopholes. that's a pro growth way of getting more revenues from wealthy americans. and i think, david, before this is all over with, there's lots of mathinations. there's capital gains, dividends. and i think cooler heads will prevail. and i think we will resolve this. and that's the very best thing we can do to get our economy going. >> you heard secretary geithner. you've heard the president. you can't get enough money in revenue unless you raise marginal rates. >> well, and here's the deal. here's the reality. let's assume they won't go for any raising in the rates. then all the bush tax cuts are going to expire, and then we would come back in january, first thing, and pass a tax cut for everybody under 250. are the republicans going to vote no on that? of course not. so they are going to get stuck with a raising of the rates of the top 2% either in a very painful way or in a way that we can all suffer a little bit,
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address all three legs of the stool, entitlements, cuts, and revenues, in a way that makes sense, and does make the very wealthy go back to a tax rate, by the way, in the '90s when we were raining jobs. had a lot of prosperity. that little bit in tax rate difference, i haven't talked to people in the business community that think that's a nonstarter. >> back in the '90s, you talk about president clinton's deal. there was a lot of reality there that was tough. first of all, the president believes that democrats ended up losing the house because of that deal. there were no republican votes in the house for that deal. and there were significant cuts to defense spending as part of that 1993 deal that everybody only remembers as raising taxes. >> i know. but this deal is important enough that everybody ought to think it's important enough to go only over. that's what we're waiting on now, the game of chicken to put the painful stuff out there. the president has put $600 billion in cuts out there. he has said the tax increases for the top 2%. now it's time for us all maybe
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together to hold hands and say, let's look at some of the things we've got to do structurally to get this fiscal cliff that taken care of. >> let me show you this report from politico, which kind of bottom lined where we are. this is what they write on friday. both sides privately acknowledge they are playing familiar roles in a largely choreographed drama whose precise end may not be known but is likely to include a sizeable tax hike on the order of $1 trillion and a pledge to come back next year to come back next year and try really hard to do entitlement and tax reform. republicans say privately they were not surprised with the initial salvo. the white house notes it has put its wish list on the table, rallied democrats to its side, pushed republicans into the position of having to counter with painful spending cut proposals. so the ball is in the republicans' court in terms of what pain america has to go through in terms of spending cuts. >> i think that's right. the white house has put out something that polls well, which
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is taxing the wealthy. most americans don't realize that the average family in america today pays into medicare throughout their lifetime $119,000 in today's dollars. they take out over their lifetime in today's dollars $357,000. and so the president has laid nothing out there to change that dynamic. >> on medicare, which is so interesting, because what happened the last time there were cuts that were actually enacted as part of medicare, we had a presidential campaign, and here was mitt romney's ad, targeting the president. this is what he did. >> you paid into medicare for years. every paycheck. now when you need it, obama has cut $716 billion from medicare. >> now, those were not benefit cuts. those were provider payments. so if you're the president, why specify what cuts you're going to make in medicare if that's the treatment that republicans will give you?
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>> well, until we get to entitlements, we're really not having a serious discussion. david, all of us know what the options are. they are not going to get more narrow as -- i mean, they are going to get more narrow as time goes on and more draconian. what you're talking about is where we solve this fiscal cliff by creating another fiscal cliff down the road is totally immature. it lacks political courage. we know what needs to be done, and let's get it done over the next three weeks. the options are not going to change. >> would you call on your party not to mount that sort of opposition to the president if he specifies how he's going to restructure medicare? >> i think that both -- look, i have laid out in great detail very painful cuts to medicare. i just did it in a 242-page bill that i have shared with the white house, shared with boehner, shared with mcconnell, in order to move us beyond this silly debate that's taking place. the fact is, claire knows this and i know this. there are serious reforms that have to take place in medicare
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for our country to become solvent. >> well, we have to be careful. and you're right about this, david. what is really irresponsible, that $716 billion, that was low-hanging fruit. that was fluff in the medicare system, savings that we had to recover. and by the way, it's the same savings that was in the ryan plan. the notion that that was used as a political two-by-four in this past election was wrong. we need a mutual detante -- >> and i actually agree that the ad was not the kind of ad that i would run. i do think the $716 billion should have been used to make medicare more solvent. but what we did was create another entitlement. that was the problem. but the $716 in changes should have taken place. we should have just used it for medicare instead of -- >> let me challenge you on democrats not being specific on how to restructure medicare. is it responsible for the met to present a vision being specific on tax hikes but on medicare
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saying, we'll get to a specific number but we won't specify? is it because there's so much pressure on the left to not reform medicare? >> i think it's certainly a fight. and i think we have to be careful. we have to make sure -- i think we can get to means testing fairly easily. some higher co-pays for people who can afford it. as i said before, donald trump may need medication but he doesn't need the government to pay for it. we've got to get to a point where we are really having people who can afford to pay for their health care, having them take that responsibility. >> that's the position the president should adopt in your view? >> i think so. i think aggressive means testing for people who can afford it makes sense as we look at long-term savings in the medicare program. but here's the thing. bob and i both know, he and i are talking and i think we can get a deal through the senate. the question is, i feel almost sorry for john boehner. there is incredible pressure on him from a base of his party that is unreasonable about this,
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and he's got to decide, is his speakership more important, or is the country more important? and in some ways, he has got to deal with this base of the republican party who grover norquist represents, and, you know, everybody's elevated grover -- i met him for the first time this morning. nice to meet him. but who is he? why is he this guy that has captured so much attention in this? let's talk about our country and -- >> but, senator, let's also talk about spending. again, you talk about 1993. president clinton cutting upwards of $250 billion from defense. name some specific programs that ought to be cut that would cause pain in terms of the role of our government that democrats are prepared to support. >> well, i think you can see more cuts frankly and a lot of us voted for more cuts in the farm program. $23 billion in savings in the farm bill that's languishing in the house right now. $23 billion a year in deficit savings. actually cutting money out of
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that program. there are other programs like that we can do away with some of the job training programs. there is duplication there. >> and defense? >> and defense. i spent a lot of times in the wings of the pentagon. if you don't think there's more money to be cut in contracting at the pentagon, you don't understand what has happened at the pentagon. >> should these sequester cuts on defense be upheld, senator? >> david, as much as i love claire, those are not the painful cuts that have to happen. we really have to look at much deeper reforms to the entitlements. and i would say that speaker boehner's biggest problem is not his base. it's having a willing partner on the other side that's really willing to look at these kinds of reforms. and i think that's going to happen. i think there's a possibility anyway. but i don't think it's his base. i think the speaker is frustrated right now because as you've mentioned, the white house keeps spiking the ball on tax increases for the wealthy. but has not yet been forthcoming on real entitlement reform. and without the two, there really is no deal.
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>> i want to come back to taxes. grover norquist, who will be back in just a minute on our roundtable. he has said pointedly, you wouldn't have been elected senator had you not signed that pledge not to raise any taxes. are you prepared to break the pledge now? >> i was just elected to the senator 3 1/2 weeks ago with claire. everybody in the state of tennessee that cared about pledges knew that the only pledge i was going to honor is the oath to office. so that's just categorically not true. >> you will vote to raise taxes if that's what it takes to get a deal? >> i am not obligated to any pledge other than my oath. i want to solve this problem. and where republicans are today, we can look at a $5 trillion tax increase with nothing on entitlement reforms by just being passive and not -- >> but you did sign it in the first place. you understood the importance of getting elected. >> well, i understood the importance of getting elected the second time. and everyone was fully aware before any votes were cast exactly where i am. >> before i let you go, i want to bring up susan rice. if she is nominated as secretary of state, you said she has
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proven to be more of a political operative. will you support her in the end if she is the nominee of the president? >> i don't think she'll be nominated. but i have told people certainly i will give her a fair hearing. i do think that the underlying issue here is people have seen her far more as a political operative and not a principle. and i think that's what the white house is witnessing right now. >> i think it's terribly unfair what has happened to susan rice. i do not understand for the life of me the talking points came from the intelligence community. yet you don't hear one criticism of david petraeus. it was his shop that produced the talking points that susan rice talked about, and she mentioned al qaeda in the interviews that sunday morning. and you go back to condi rice. i mean, really? is there a double standard here? it appears to most of us that there is, a very unfair one. this is a strong, smart, capable, accomplished woman.
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and i think that there is too many people over there that are looking for a scalp. >> so you're saying that the president should take on this fight? >> i don't know whether he should take on the fight or not. i know this. what has happened to susan rice is terribly unfair. if you really understand what went on, it is terribly unfair that she had be the scapegoat for this when really the failures ought to be at the last of the head of the intelligence community that produced those talking points, but none of the guys will say a word about david petraeus. >> more to come on this, obviously. thank you both for being here very much. when we come back, more from our roundtable. we rejoin the conversation and broaden it out a little bit to talk about the broader vision for the economy over the next four years in the president's second term. norquist, van hollen, cramer, and bartiromo. they are back right after this. . ♪ aids will not take our future. ♪
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we are back with our roundtable for more on the economic vision over the next four years and how the fiscal cliff plays into it. and it's like those presidential debates, grover norquist. when you're mentioned by name, we have to give you a chance to respond. you heard senator mccaskill. but how about the headlines this week? you have been front and center in the debate. here are some of the headlines. "the new york times" really stands out. is grover finally over? and then, this is really about the pledge that you introduced that is a pledge between these office holding republicans and the people who have elected them. it's not a pledge to you, as you often point out. the bottom line is, are you over? is this tax fight over? >> well, actually, that was last week's news. the president and mr. geithner have really changed the direction here. because there were a few people, including the senator you just had on, who were seduced into thinking, well, maybe i'll have a small, tiny tax increase and have real reform and move
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forward. >> you're talking about corker? >> and there were others who said -- and, look, corker wants tiny tax increases and very serious reforms. but you're not going to get that. what the obama administration and geithner said is massive tax increases and zero reforms. our savings come from not occupying iraq for the next 20 years. the budget they put forward was laughed out of the house and the senate last year. no democrat wanted to agree to that before they ran for re-election. >> but you're making the case because there is still the fundamental question of whether republicans feel beholden to the position that they cannot raise taxes, even if it's mandatory for how government out to operate. >> well, it didn't work that well in greece. not so positive in spain. these countries were deeply committed to your position. no tax increases. >> those states were bankrupted by their overspending. >> no one wanted to pay for it.
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>> the modern republican party wants less taxes and lower spending. they passed a ryan plan which reforms entitlements, reforms taxes, doesn't raise taxes. it's the democrats who don't have a legislative budget. >> make the case for why you view this the president making a truly balanced approach to not just solving this problem but really moving the economy forward. >> well, he has. and first of all, let's be clear. the way you get massive tax increases, $5 trillion tax increases, is if you go over the fiscal cliff. what the president has said, let's just ask higher income individuals to contribute a little more to reduce our deficit to prevent that from happening. the president has taken a balanced approach. look, we already entered into $1 trillion in cuts which we'll have to enforce and implement over the next 10 years, including, by the way, cuts in defense. you mentioned defense cuts as part of the clinton deal. >> that was 1993. >> we did the first half of the clinton deal as part of the budget control act. we're going to do $1 trillion in cuts.
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as secretary geithner pointed out, the president's budget contains additional cuts. and i don't think people recognize this. the president's budget over the next 10 years has more additional savings in medicare than the republican ryan budget over the next 10 years. let's see their plan. the reality is, they attack the president viciously, claiming he cut medicare by $716 billion. what they wanted to do was to add that $716 billion back into medicare, which would have cut the solvency by eight years. so they attack him for $716 billion, and now they are coming around saying, mr. president, you don't have enough medicare savings in your plan when in fact his plan over the next 10 years -- >> well, both things can be true. there's still not enough detail about how you fundamentally restructure medicare because the president does not want to make that commitment yet before he solves the tax issue. we'll come back. >> absolutely the right point, david. the fact is i find is extraordinary that we are zeroing in on this discussion only about taxes and we do not
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have this kind of discussion when it comes to spending cuts. two points. americans realize that the three biggest drivers of our debt are medicare, medicaid, and social security. we need structural change. we haven't heard that. number two, on taxes, you really can't put all of the taxes into one category. dividend taxes, for one, is probably the biggest threat to the markets and the economy right now when you're just looking at taxes. and dividend taxes are not a rich tax. nor a capital gains. you're talking about pension funds, 401(k) plans, invest in companies that pay dividends. if you're expecting a dividend tax to go from 15% to 44% that, completely removes the opportunity or the incentive to buy dividend paying companies. and that's going to hurt not just the rich. that's going to hurt everybody if we see that. that's very dangerous, and it would create a massive selloff. >> one of the things that the president has done, going to congress and said, going out and
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encouraging people to tweet and post on facebook my 2k, meaning the $2,000 they would get in the extended tax breaks for the middle class. but he is also meeting privately with ceos. he has a bad relationship with wall street and with corporate america generally. he has presented much of this plan. what's the feedback he's getting? >> there will be a big recession if you don't get behind him. i'm finding many republican ceos -- by the way, most ceos are republican. they are on board. they are not on board with you because they fear your view because they think that you do not favor going -- you favor going over the cliff. that's what they think. they think that you favor -- >> just for the record, since we're on tv, that's silly. if they think that, they shouldn't be in office. >> they had 13 months to deal with this. we are down to 29 days. the time for opening salvos is over. >> two years ago, we had exactly the same conversation, even here, on the question of having a debt ceiling increase. and the democrats wanted $1.6 trillion in higher taxes. they didn't want to reduce spending.
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and eventually we got $2.5 trillion in spending committed without tax increases. we got a good deal. now the president wants to take back off the table spending cuts that are already in lock. so when he talks about spending restraint, he is adding $1 trillion, $1.5 trillion, you might count $2 trillion, in additional spending by taking the $1 trillion away and deciding he'll put off the sequester forever. he has a massive spending increase because he is trying to undo his previous agreement. i opposed going over the cliff two years ago. we didn't. we cut spending. i'm not for it this time. two years ago, we extended all the bush tax cuts. we didn't go over any cliff. it's the president who is in the bank screaming he'll shoot the hostages and it's your fault if you don't give him everything he wants. that's not a reasonable position, and it won't hold. >> congressman, what are the chances we do go over the cliff this time? >> i think the chances are better that we will not go over the cliff. i think we will be able to get an agreement on the sequester to
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replace the across the board cuts substituted with other savings. and i believe we will come to a resolution on this tax issue. but i believe it because what senator mccaskill and secretary geithner said is true, which is i don't think people -- i don't think it's sustainable to go into january saying that the great mass of the country isn't getting tax relief because they are holding out for this bonus tax breaks for folks at the top. we'll take a break and then talk about consequences of inaction, real or imagined, when we come back with our roundtable after this. [ male announcer ] introducing...
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we're back. final minutes with our roundtable. you just said it. you want to respond more to what grover is saying on the ultimate deal. >> he is talking about seducing, that the republicans have been seduced. impure thoughts. this is not a pornographic debate, grover. this is about avoiding a recession, which is going to happen. i know you don't want a recession. you don't want people laid off. you're going to sacrifice that for the 2%? is that what you want? >> no. you have to listen to both what the republicans are talking about -- again, i'm supportive of the republican position, which is we need to have economic growth, not higher taxes. if we grew at 4% a year instead of 2% a year, reagan levels instead of obama levels, for one decade we would ned net $5 trillion in additional revenue. >> no obama care. no threat of regulations. understand how ugly the next four years will get. everything in obama care that
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obama didn't want you to focus on or think about, the 90% of his trillion dollar tax increase was pushed over until after he got himself safely re-elected. all those regulations you're now hearing about, ok, that are being talked about, those all hit after the election. we got four bad years of regulation taxes. he wants to add higher taxes to that. tea party two will dwarf tea party one if obama pushes us off the cliff. let's not pretend he isn't pushing us off the cliff. >> maria, the broader question, where is our economy right now as we're tackling this issue? what's the economy doing well? what's it not doing as well? and what will we see over the next four years? >> we are moving at a slow pace. at this point in the recovery, you would expect faster growth, which we are not going. if we go over the cliff, we will go into recession. a couple of industries will feel the hurt more so than others. obviously, defense. and because these are long-term projects, those defense cuts will be felt well into 2013,
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into 2014. what's doing well? health care is doing well. we're living longer. living until 100 years old. that's a positive. it's not a crisis. it's a positive. so we are in need of 1 million nurses, health care professionals in the coming years. technology doing very well. a lot of start-up technology. innovation going well. that's a positive. manufacturing coming back a bit as well. the auto sector. however, everything can change in a nanosecond. yes, it's resilient. i agree with the secretary. however, very, very fragile. particularly with this fiscal cliff. >> well, we haven't talked about one of the big pieces of the fiscal cliff, which actually has a way bigger impact on the economy than tax breaks for the folks at the top, and that's the payroll tax extension for 160 million americans. the nonpartisan congressional budget office says that gives you the most bang for your buck economically speaking. i believe we have to extend that for a year or come up with some alternative way of doing that. let me say a quick word about medicare reform. there's a difference in outlook. we believe we have to find
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savings in medicare. the president did, $760 billion, and we can build on that by trying to modernize the system, reduce costs overall in the system, not simply transfer rising health care costs onto the backs of seniors on medicare. $22,000 median income. that's what the voucher plan did. we believe we can find savings by changing the way we reimburse doctors and hospitals. not by across the board cuts, but by focusing on the value of care, the quality of care, not the volume of care and the quantity of care. >> one final bottom line question for grover norquist. in this deal, are there new taxes in the end? i know what your position is. but what does reality tell you? >> this can play out several ways. if we have tv cameras in there, cspan there, if we have seven days of bills -- these are 24i7k things that obama promised. >> no, that's not going to happen. >> we are going to get tv cameras in there. what i'm tired of is people
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saying one thing and then doing something different. >> will it go up? >> it depends. if people watch it on c span -- >> he talks about cspan and transparency. the president's plan is out there on the internet. let speaker boehner put your plan on the internet. >> is that the plan now? >> we have to go. we recently celebrated the 65th anniversary of "meet the press." to mark the occasion, nbc publishing will soon be releasing a new ebook, "meet the press," 65 years in the making, available to preorder for ipad at the ibooks store. full details on the website, meetthepress@msnbc.com. while you're there, catch my interview with former federal bank regulator sheila blair. she has some criticism of the president in the handling of the fiscal cliff negotiations. you can see that online as well. that is all for today. we will be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the